The Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program (WOSB Program) has again undergone significant changes. The implications are far-reaching and demand immediate action. Here is what’s going on, why it’s happening, and what you need to do.
What Is Changing
- Program participants seeking set-aside or sole source contracts under the program must now receive approval from SBA prior to submitting their offers on the contract. The new system is intended to facilitate the issuance of that certification.
- The WOSB program is replacing certify.sba.gov with beta.certify.sba.gov. WOSBs will need to transfer their documents to continue to participate in the program.
- The rule eliminates the self-certification option in order to win set aside or sole source contracts under the WOSB program. As of now, you can still self-certify on contracts under full and open competition or outside of the industries approved for program participation, but that may change in the future.
- The process for creating an account is becoming extremely complex in comparison to its predecessor system. Once you jump through those hoops, you can then request access to the WOSB application, but you need every document ready to get through the application process. The step-by-step process is outlined below.
- Firms can submit applications for initial processing now. On October 15, SBA began issuing decisions on certification applications. If the procurement was out prior to October 15 and you are self-certified then you can submit an offer to it, but if it is a more recent opportunity that is a WOSB set aside or sole-source opportunity, you need to now have that certification in hand from the SBA.
Why These Changes Are Happening
Since the WOSB program is fairly new with a smaller pool of participants, it is being used as a guinea pig for some technology changes at SBA which will also implement new regulatory changes to the program. It’s part of SBA changing from a self-certification, hybrid program to a full certification program.
What You Need to Do
1. If you have not moved to the new system, do it ASAP. SBA has said they will be removing documents from the old system, and although it hasn’t happened yet, you may lose access at any point in the future without further notification from the agency.
2. To receive a women owned small business set aside or a sole source opportunity, the firm must be certified one of three ways:
- By SBA directly. Do this by uploading your documents to beta.certify.sba.gov.
- An authorized Federal or state entity such as the 8(a) program or the Veterans Certification program
- An authorized third-party certifier (TPC)
3. Regardless of the method of certification, documents must be uploaded to the new beta.certify.sba.gov and reviewed/approved by SBA before submitting an offer on a WOSB program contract. This is what you need to do create an account:
- First, you need a login.gov account. That should be the easy part for most users, as it’s the same login for SAM.gov and many other familiar federal procurement systems.
- In order to create your profile with SBA, you need your MPIN and DUNS number (also required for SAM, so not too hard). That will allow you to claim your business in a workflow that is familiar to those who used the previous system.
- In order to finalize claiming your business and before even starting the WOSB application, you are required to demonstrate proof of small business eligibility and citizenship. To do this, you need to have your average number of employees over the past 12 months and/or your annual receipts for three to five years on hand (see 13 CFR 121.104(a) for the exact numbers you need from your tax returns).
- You also need to be able to upload proof of citizenship. Unfortunately, you cannot proceed to the next question without uploading documents, so you need to have everything ready to go in order to get through the initial setup of your beta.certify.sba.gov profile.
The changes make the process of certification increasingly challenging, but not impossible. Get started now and feel free to reach out to us at GovContractPros if you need additional support.